Existing Beyond RealityVolume II: Masking The Truth

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In a perceptive book, Which Way Africa? The blindspot for technology lives on too. Nkrumah had lived in the United States for ten years, arriving in the middle of the Great Depression and leaving in May , only weeks before the end of World War II. In America, Nkrumah witnessed something of the technological marvel that did and still does define the country. Recalling his arrival in New York, via ship from London, he later wrote:. He believed in the power of science and technology to transform society.

Nkrumah confidently declared, "We shall achieve in a decade what it took others a century" [ 2 ], Influenced by the economic organization of the Soviet Union, Nkrumah placed the state at the center of commerce and development. He embraced nuclear energy, formed an Academy of Science and urged Ghanaians to "take part in the pursuit of scientific and technological research as a means of providing a basis for our socialist society. Socialism without science is void" [ 3 ]. Volatility in cocoa and gold prices made economic planning difficult.

Nkrumah may have someday grown tired of his reliance on big technology projects, but his time ran out. In , while on a trip to China, where he sought to negotiate a settlement to the Vietnam War, he was ousted from office in a military coup. While advances on other technological fronts merited attention, information technology claimed a transforming effect on rich, industrial countries, essentially rewriting the rules of commerce and the terms of ordinary life.

Computerization swept through business and government bureaucracies in the s, moving beyond its original enclave in the military. In the s, the first personal computer was invented, igniting a relentless drive toward putting information technology at the center of every human endeavor. In the s, rapid changes in communications intersected with advances in computer networking, resulting in the popular acceptance of the Internet and mobile telephony in the s. While sustained by private energies and finance, the "information revolution" remained a priority of national governments in Europe, the United States and, increasingly, the rest of the world.

Yet Africa slept. Into the s, computers were scarce in Africa and telecommunications awful. Merely completing a phone call was a cause for celebration. Endless civil wars in certain countries Angola, for instance, or the Sudan provided another explanation.

But even in relatively wealthy African countries, technology time seemed to stand still. While in Europe and the U. Times have changed. Telephony is exploding. Restrictions on telecommunications eased in Africa at the end of the millennium, often not the result of reform of telephone monopolies but the result of pressure from wireless telephony. At the same time, internet telephony, or "voice over IP," vastly reduced the charges of international calls. A dozen companies in Ghana offer direct connections to the Internet, from home or office [ 8 ].

Older information technologies are exploding as well. In Ghana, after the government loosened restrictions on radio stations, allowing private ownership on a large scale for the first time in the late s, dozens of stations sprang up, dramatically altering the national conversation. While changes in newspapers and television are less rapid, Ghana today has a far, far richer information and communications environment than five years ago.

The same can be said about nearly every country south of the Sahara. Africa may not be ready for the information revolution, but it has arrived [ 9 ]. Rather than remaining passive spectators to a global technological procession, educated Ghanaians now actively seek to harness technological change for national advantage. In the chapters to follow, I will describe the Ghanaian situation and examine the options available to government policymakers and private actors in the following areas:. These communities of practice exist in an infant form in Ghana but face significant threats, notably "brain drain," or the export of talent Chapter three ; and,.

There is no reason to expect that information technology, once unleashed, will transform the African condition on its own. In Ghana, there is a growing awareness that the country has stagnated, or worse, since independence in Accra is a city, perhaps alone in Africa, where robbery still excites outrage because of its rarity and a murder is an occasion for shock, not a shrug. By the standards of the most violent and corrupt African countries, Ghana is attractive, a place where decency and warmth are sustained even in times of material hardship.

Yet there is a sense of frustration in Ghana over unfulfilled expectations and narrowed possibilities. There is a growing belief that the intelligent embrace of information technology is perhaps the only means of fairly quickly moving the country out of a dispiriting, grinding rut. The belief that technology can save Ghana comes from a loose reading of another set of former colonies who were poorer than Ghana at its independence, the East Asian countries of Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Each of these countries is far wealthier than Ghana today. The comparison between Ghana and Korea, first highlighted in Knowledge for Development, a World Bank report, is sobering.

Dzidonu applies a straightforward principle when he thinks about IT and development. He envisions no real alternative, since the country has tried for decades to squeeze more wealth from its traditional sources, gold and cocoa, without success. The trouble for Ghana is that, while there is the will, the way is not clear.


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Ghana must begin from where it is, even if it surely would realize the promise of information technology more quickly from another starting place. It has as few as 50 software programmers of international standard and certainly no more than The country remains information poor. Cynicism about the potential for policy to make a difference is widespread. Even when the policies are correct, government faces difficulties getting things done.

The most talented people in the arena of science and technology, if they have not left Ghana for more attractive environments, often pursue only private agendas, shunning the civic space. Says one Accra technologist, with a degree from an important U. My job is to build an immune system against it. The assessment, while reflecting a widespread sentiment, is unfair.

But in one respect, the engineer is correct. Knowledge has scant monetary or social value in Ghana. Multinational corporations have played a large role in the emergence of technology clusters in developing countries. Not a single computer or software company of any global significance researches, develops or manufactures any of its products in Africa south of the Sahara. The lack of investment presents a challenge: When foreign investment is so small, can a recipient country achieve any kind of global, or even regional, competency in information technology?

On such a thin international base, how can Ghana possibly follow in the footsteps of Bangalore, India or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and become a magnet for IT investment? The answer, of course, is to increase the level of direct foreign investment in Ghana. Even small, targeted investments by multinational corporations, in combination with the efforts of small but vital domestic IT companies, could transform the industrial landscape of Ghana and the West African region. In the first part of this chapter, I will review the experience of a large American IT company in Accra, which reveals the potential for multinational corporations to transform the IT landscape in Africa, and also the limitations on the contribution of foreign companies to African technology development.

Only two U. The first company is Alcoa, a maker of aluminum. Nkrumah wanted to produce electricity for his country and organized plans to build a massive dam of the Volta River in Eastern Ghana. The company makes no "downstream" products from the raw aluminum it produces in Ghana and it imports virtually everything required prior to the stage where the massive application of electricity to aluminum smelting occurs. Alcoa even imports bauxite, a basic ingredient, from Jamaica, halfway around the world, even though there are supplies of the same raw material a few hours from its Ghana plant in the neighboring country of Togo.

Since Alcoa insists on a cheap price for electricity, ordinary Ghanaians now increasingly subsidize the operating expenses of a wealthy American multinational corporation. The experience in Ghana of an American information services company illustrates how global communications, computers and a shared knowledge of the English language combine to create opportunities for the integration of Ghana into the transnational knowledge economy. To understand how this happens, let me first explain what Data Flow does. A health insurer, such as Aetna, needs to manage the flow of medical claim forms, handwritten or typed, and to place the essential information into electronic format, which allows Aetna to more quickly and easily decide which claims are covered and for how much.

Data Flow opened its first shop in Mexico in Aetna scans its claim forms into a computer, so that each computer record looks roughly like the original sheet of paper. These records are then "shipped" to another location via satellite or land telephone lines, over a computer network. Data Flow, which outsources for Aetna, receives these records on its computers in Ghana and its Ghanaian keypunchers, sitting in front of screens, begin to extract information and insert the information into new records according to certain rules. The chief skills of the keypunchers are reading and typing.

Errors in recording are costly because they are difficult to discover, so the speed of the typist must be balanced against the importance of accuracy. Computer networks make supervision easy. If Aetna wishes, one of its supervisors in New York can "watch," electronically, as a keypuncher in Ghana extracts data from a scanned form.

The Aetna supervisor, even though he or she is physically thousands of miles away, can instantaneously deliver a message to a counterpart in Accra, alerting them about what might be an error in the making. Managers of outsourcing companies thus have the possibility of finding suitable labor virtually anywhere in the world. The result: A race to find the best quality workers at the lowest wages.

Senior executives of Data Flow first visited Accra in February, A Mormon charitable group runs a school in Accra and the school trains people, free of charge, in typing and computer skills. Given such a large wage difference, Data Flow decided it could offer services from Ghana at a discount to its customers, thus undercutting resistance by customers to sending work to an untested location in Africa.

Data Flow had one final hurdle to clear before opening shop. How would the company get data back and forth from the U. There was a catch, however. No private company in Ghana had ever been allowed to "import" and "export" data in such a manner. The government forbade such activity or, more precisely, reserved the right to permit it, and it never had for a complex set of reasons including a fear that political dissent would result from freer communications links with the wider world. Data Flow began work in Once active, Data Flow expanded rapidly, reaching one thousand employees in barely twelve months.

Some keypunchers quickly became supervisors, improving their wages and working conditions. While Data Flow relied on imported networks, the company purchased all of its computers and some of its other equipment from local dealers. The company sent back a few dozen of its Accra workers to the U.

Ghanaians watched the rise of Data Flow with a mixture of awe and envy. Workers received daily transportation to and from the office, meals on premises and even a local brand of private health insurance. Despite the criticisms, Data Flow has changed the landscape in Accra. It has withstood frequent electricity outages, repeated unionization drives forestalled and the high cost of office rents. Outwardly what is most unusual about Data Flow is that it operates 24 hours a day, in three daily shifts. No "white collar" company has ever done this in Ghana. Keypunch wages are not fixed, but fluctuate according to output, which of course depends on energy and skills of the individual worker and the difficulty of the tasks assigned.

With the exception of health care workers physicians, nurses and hospital clerks and administrators , civil servants are accustomed to a good deal of idle time. Even in sectors where workers are expected to give a decent effort, wages are low and so is productivity.

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Workers in Ghana often lack the training and the tools to do a job adequately. To maintain output, Data Flow pays piece rates throughout the world; Ghana is no exception. Yet piece rates have spawned jealousy among workers in Accra, caused some public misunderstanding, and fanned periodic calls for unionization of the workforce. Since the legal minimum wage was about one dollar a day when Data Flow began operating, company executives also note that their wage scales are higher than the norm in Accra. For a variety of reasons, Data Flow has halted expansion in Ghana for the moment.

An executive insists that the company "is committed to Ghana" and is studying whether to embark on an expansion plan that would double its workforce over the next few years. The first reason is technical. The company recently entered India for the first time, opening a large office in Bangalore, where wages for keypunchers are about the same as Accra but communications infrastructure is far better and customer acceptance of the location is much greater.

Next on the list is China, where wages also compare favorably with Africa and English fluency is spreading. Finally, there is the issue of talent. One says, "We know in Accra we have people who can handle tasks on the first tier and maybe the second. But what about the third, fourth and fifth tiers? The company employs about a dozen programmers, the largest collection of code writers in Ghana who are not purely devoted to the internal demands of a single organization. Born of Ghanaian parents and raised in Ghana, Herman attended a university in Texas, then returned home and decided to assemble a team to write original software.

With programmers in high demand in the U. He could have stayed in the U. His company has never exported to the U. Moreover, the company can handle only five or six small software projects at once, based on teams of two to three people each. Recruiting technical talent is also difficult, although Soft benefits from the relative peace, quality of life and low costs in Accra compared to other African capitals.

Herman and his cofounder, Kojo Gyakye, attended secondary school together in Ghana. Test programs are shared with only three or more sites, limiting the ability to root out coding errors in the development stage. Even the sites chosen for beta tests "are monitored very closely," Gyakye says. Despite these problems, Soft is likely to grow its business. The experiences of these important clusters "suggest that industrial systems built on regional networks are more flexible and technologically dynamic than those in which experimentation is confined to individual firms" [ 11 ].

Clusters can better withstand the volatility inherent in technological change. By clustering, individual companies share the cost of developing human capital, because all benefit from a growing pool of technically knowledgeable people. By clustering, companies effectively reduce the cost of improving infrastructure. They also create the conditions out of which communities of practice arise.

Often technologies from Europe and the U. Few specialists in information technology in the U. Some of the reason for the reluctance to do so is intellectual: Scientists and engineers tend to make universal claims for their knowledge and its application. But increasingly there is a realization that social and physical conditions in Africa are sufficiently different enough from the U.

That indigenous innovators may produce systems that better meet the needs of Africans is part of the "value added" that comes along with the economic benefits of a technological cluster. But making indigenous technology is difficult. If such an approach is correct, then Microsoft, say, should develop an Africanized version of its Windows operating system and popular applications programs that would work much more simply and on far less powerful computers than required today.

To be sure, there is a commercial payoff from standardization, not the least being the economies of scale gained in development and training. What is needed is to marry roots and wings, the best of the South and the North. The computers require frequent cleaning because of the dust that blows down from the Sahara. Customers steal toilet paper, apparently to sell on the street. Minutes after Mr. After a panicked phone call, he stopped the wire transfer, but it took three months to confirm his lease was valid.

Customs held his satellite dishes for two months. Embracing local customs, Mr. Davies arranged for a Ga tribal chief to bless the construction site with a bottle of imported schnapps. But even a tribal blessing can only go so far. Ghana Telecom, the virtual phone monopoly, has installed only 15 of the 30 lines he ordered. The entire country has just , phone lines, for a population of 20 million.

Despite the obstacles, Busyinternet caught on. Busyinternet works because of its hybrid nature; the company is part local and part global. Davies and Rousselet brought foreign expertise and capital, much like a multinational might. Some of the technology is too: Davies hired the company Soft to write the code that tracks the time customers remain online. As we have seen, multinational technology companies can drive technology development only so far in Ghana. Ghanaians must contribute to the creation of technology clusters, and most likely in the competency areas of information services and software programming.

But capital is not enough. There are many nonfinancial barriers to commercial innovation in Ghana. The most notable of these barriers is a complicated system of land ownership, poor roads and a derelict telecommunications network. Financial problems are substantial, however. Lower interest rates may come through reductions in deficit spending by the government and improved terms of trade currently Ghana imports more than it exports, creating the conditions for the depreciation of its currency, the cedi, which has fallen dramatically in recent years, from about 2, to the dollar in to 8, to the dollar today.

The new government of John Kufuor is attempting to improve the competitiveness of textile manufacturers and certain agriculture producers through government subsidies an echo of the policies of the Asian tigers in the s and s. Entrepreneurs, especially those in technology fields, can expect a more immediate lift from shifts in social attitudes towards risk and reward.

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At independence Ghana was relatively wealthy, with an indigenous business elite whose ranks were swelled by traders of Lebanese descent and some British commercial holdovers. The military dictator who ended the cycle of coups, Jerry Rawlings, was at first imbued with socialist ideology and suspicious of the wealthy. He froze bank accounts and seized assets. He cites the popular Akan folklore hero, the cunning, mischievous and selfish spider, Ananse. The spider gets ahead by skirting the rules, not through honing skills and hard work. Ananse gets away with everything and society leaves him alone.

Whatever its sources, aversion to risk means a shortage of capital for new ventures. Then there is the problem of identifying ventures with good potential. As of the end of last year, Fidelity had invested in only two deals, one of which was Busyinternet where Davies made his proposition more attractive by investing a substantial amount of his personal money. Not only is the flow of potential deals thin, there is the problem of repayment or "exit. Ghana has a functioning stock market but it is limited chiefly to companies with a solid base or a link to natural resources.

To address the problem of repayment, Thompson has opted for convertible debt so that his fund can show some cash flow. Another possibility is to encourage mergers among new ventures, or sales to foreign companies. These calls come with a typical caveat: Let private fund managers make the investment decisions. There is a measure of truth in this view. Consider the case of one of the wireless telephony companies in Ghana, Mobitel, which is an affiliate of a Swedish telecommunications company.

Mobitel was the first to offer wireless service in Ghana, but the company chose an analog system. By the year , Spacefon had ten times more customers than Mobitel more than , The service is nearly identical to what is offered by the most advanced wireless providers in northern Europe, for instance.

To be sure, Mobitel has a business case for offering a gourmet service: Its rival Spacefon had nothing like it and Mobitel is playing catch up. The new wireless service was neither keyed to Africa nor simple to use. The company protested the charges and the government released the equipment a month later.


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  • In the following 60 days, Mobitel engineers installed the digital technology, piggybacking on 18 existing cell sites. By 27 June , the company was ready to provide a service that, technically at least, matched the best in Europe. For an entire year, the government refused to allow Mobitel to switch on its new equipment. The recent experience of Mobitel is a reminder that the politics of information technology can be as important as the technological issues underlying new products and services.

    That can be flown in. The technology was as good as anything in northern Europe, the hotbed of wireless innovation, but the government was troubled by the political economy of the wireless industry in Ghana. Mobitel is partly owned by a friend of the former President Jerry Rawlings. Politics are only one factor that shape the reception given a new technology.

    Other institutional forces shape the result as well. One formidable institution is land ownership patterns, which reflect both a complex web of tradition and tribalism and a contemporary legal understanding of property and value. One common problem for wireless companies around the world is where to place a cell tower. But prices can be negotiated; what is sometimes impossible is determining who owns a piece of property.

    There is no system of land title; no ironclad, automatic way of determining who owns a particular piece of property. Says one Mobitel manager, "No one can tell us who owns land. Who do we go to see? What policies can government and civil society support in order to promote more diverse activity in the area of software and information services?

    Here are several steps worth considering:. The government ought to move swiftly to make opening an outsourcing business easier for foreigners or foreigners in joint ventures with locals. International agencies can help. Local companies also must reduce the suspicion with which they view one another. In addition to targeting specific areas of computing and communications, the government should also pursue smaller multinational corporations who are sometimes more nimble, flexible and daring than industry titans.

    Individual foreign entrepreneurs may find Accra attractive, too. One German national, who manages his own Internet company in Accra, explains why he opted to do business in Africa rather than Europe: "Internet in Germany is mature. Big players have market locked up. If we are to prevent potential irreversible ecological consequences to coastal habitats, then our management agencies must place a high premium on efficiency, accountability and performance. Every avenue for performance improvement must be explored.

    A sound communication policy is integral to improving performance in the resource management milieu we envision. The central objective is the preservation of an acceptable level and geographic scale of coastal ecosystem integrity and function that will insure their long term productive use Thomson, There are at least three themes pervading new approaches to environmental protection. One is geo-ecosystematic management where the integrity of biological systems as a whole and their regional extent are critical considerations Likens, ; Woodley, et al.

    Implementing large-scale management approaches coupled with rapid coastal development portend enormous difficulty for our institutions of management. Decisions must be made in real time with the best information at hand. Scientific data need to get into the public policy arena more rapidly and in an integrated form for non-scientists. We will have to adequately define for management purposes what is important to human and ecosystem health in the context of tradeoffs and risk analysis. Societal values are involved and may change with time.

    All of this has to be done in a relatively short period against a background of population growth, economic development and cumulative environmental impacts Odum, ; Rieser, Successful management approaches must not only incorporate scientific information, but address such issues as values and perceived benefits. Without a high degree of political consensus on environmental issues, society may not respond adequately to insure long term environmental protection.

    Communication is a necessary catalyst to successful management performance and sustained public investment in a sound environmental protection infrastructure. Management agencies must understand and utilize to the fullest contemporary communication and information management techniques, strategies and technologies.

    We live in an information age and every day witnesses a new addition to or improvement in the information highway. This potential for rapidly reaching large and diverse audiences at reasonable cost may soon be virtually unlimited. The widespread access to information has led to the breakdown of traditional media control of information and there are literally a plethora of communication vehicles including cable TV, radio talk shows and the World Wide Web that now influence public opinion.

    By understanding and utilizing these resources, environmental managers stand to better advance their agency's agenda. Good communications management can: a Shorten time between knowledge creation and public response to that knowledge. It gets scientific information more quickly into the policy arena. This is essential if we hope to manage large scale systems under current fragmented institutional jurisdictions. Program objectives are to develop environmental research plans for coastal regions, identify regional research needs and promote interaction among scientists, environmental management agencies and regional political constituencies.

    Early on, the Board understood that, by mandate, it is primarily a service organization with a responsibility to regional and national user group needs and expectations, that information is the Board's primary product and that product has value Lee, to management decision-making for the Gulf of Maine. To be successful, a sound communications and information management plan was essential. The following is a summary of how that plan was developed and its principal elements. First, the Board made communications a formal commitment of the organization and agreed to commit significant resources.

    Information management became an integral part of planning. Communications activities were then prioritized in accordance with mandate and budget. Figure 1 portrays the communication links developed directly through the Board's membership. Advisory or peer review groups, such as the Board, are a powerful means of involving critical constituencies. Note that the Board has directly represented critical federal agencies, statehouses, legislatures, the Canadian government and academe. Through other outside activities of its members, the Board has direct communication links with a far greater number of critical user groups such as economic development agencies, fisheries councils, private industry and legislative subcommittees.

    That is a powerful mix of communication links with key user groups that influence management policy in the Gulf of Maine. Figure 2 illustrates the links through various vehicles or communications products that the Board produces directly or commissions. A principal example is the ten year research plan GOM, a that was widely circulated among sponsoring federal agencies and key congressional committees.

    Workshops involving Board sponsored researchers and invited interested constituencies have been sponsored in order to examine critical issues or review research findings GOM, b. Pamphlets and informational literature have been created and promulgated at modest cost through the Sea Grant communication network. The network employs media professionals and reaches a broad audience Figure 2.

    By judicious planning, modest investment and maximum use of the board's network of contacts, information generated by board activities rapidly, and in digested form, reaches a broad audience that collectively influence public policy on regional environmental protection. The concept adopted Figure 3 makes use of the information highway and involves a central management group networked to a number of databases maintained by various institutions, most of whom are actively creating new data through research contracts sponsored by the Board.

    The degree of public awareness, societal consensus and availability of sound scientific information will largely determine how well we perform. Well- founded communications and information management can make all the difference. Robert E. Toward new paradigms in coastal resource management: linkages and institutional effectiveness. Estuaries, in press.

    Coker A. Richards eds. Belhaven Press, Boca Raton, Florida. GOM, b. Report on Research Program. February Hahn, R. United States environmental policy; past, present and future. Natural Resources Journal King, L. Ocean and coastal management in the United States: need to incorporate local, state and regional, perspectives, p. Cicin-Sain ed. University of Delaware, Newark. Kiplinger, A.

    The Kiplinger Washington Letter. December Lee, K. Island Press, Washington, p.

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    Likens, G. Volume 3. Ecology Institute. Mason, C. Cohen Milkowski, G. DODS: providing direct access to distributed research data resources. Oceanography Myers, N. The question of linkages in environment and development. Bioscience Summary Draft for Agencies' Review. Odum, E. Environmental degradation and the tyranny of small decisions.

    Rieser, A. Assessing cumulative impacts, p. Ocean Governance: A New Vision. Rowe, J. V Barnes. Geo-ecosystems and bio-ecosystems. Bulletin Ecological Society of America 75 1 Thomson, K. No easy answers. American Scientist 82 3 Woodley, S. Kay and G. Francis eds. Ecological Integrity and the Management of Ecosystems. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, Florida. States represented are Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Agencies appointing members are listed in center circle.

    Informational "products" produced by the Regional Marine Research Board. Major user groups identified for receipt of those products appear in outer rectangles. Schematic of Regional Research Board's environmental data and information management system plan. Organizations on outer ring constitute the network with more than one entity per state. NOAA satellite data is an input, other users can access information through Internet.

    Benilov and T G. McKee Jr. The dynamic and thermodynamic description of the model are presented. The ecosystem model has several parameters which control its dynamic features and equilibrium state. The stability analysis shows that an external impact dramatically changes the equilibrium state of the ecosystem and can produce irreversible destructive changes in it.

    In the framework of the given approach, analysis of the dynamic features of the model is done, and examples of prediction and regulation are presented. The ranges of ecosystem's parameters which produce minimal damages from external impacts leads to a successful management by generating optimal regulations. Some general principles of ecological system modeling are developed and described in numerous early and recent publications []. The study of the oceanic ecosystem has become an important and quickly developing direction of sea biology [10, 13, 21] The complexity of ecological systems due to the huge number of trophic levels and the complex structure of their interactions with each other and with the surrounding environment, in most cases, only allows for numerical simulations by the existing models [5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 21].

    For instance, an existing literature model may be considered the simplest of ecological models [22], however, may still be so complex, that some qualitative and quantitative conclusions regarding features of the ecosystem behavior, as it is influenced by changes in its biological characteristics and environmental parameters, have not been found so far: For that reason, it is difficult to apply these models when attempting to make more consistent regulatory and management decisions.

    In light of this, it appears to be necessary to build and develop a simple model. The ecosystem model proposed is simple enough for analytical study and simultaneously reflects the basic features of natural ecosystems, which are as follows: 1 Any natural ecosystem consists of a biotic component living thing , an abiotic organic component nonliving , and an inorganic biogenic component [23, 24]. For all ecosystems, there is a substance cycle [23, 24], i. The biotic component biomass increases if the nutrition biogenic is sufficient and decreases for opposite case. From an energetic point of view, the natural ecosystems are open because the processes of the biomass growth occur due to the energy flux of sun radiation, and the conservation law of energy is carried out for the entire ecosystem [6, 10, 13, 23, ].

    As any closed ecosystem having a steady energy flux flowing through it, the studied system produces a self-regulating mechanism and develops to a stable state [5]. The enumerated features of the ecosystem are well known and, apparently, are the minimum features which must be fulfilled by a model description of a natural ecosystem.

    Thus, the simplest ecosystem model have to include at least three components, and their, interactions with each other provide execution of the conditions 2 - 6. In the framework of the given approach, analysis of the dynamic features of the model [11] is done, and examples of prediction and regulation are presented.

    Performing condition 1 , the density W can be represented by the sum of living organic component, M, mineral nutrition biogenic component , B, and nonliving organic component detritus , G. The transfer equation of the aquatic ecosystem substance, W, can be written in the most general form [11].

    It is assumed, that inside the region, occupied by the ecosystem, the substance W is not produced and does not vanish, i. We also consider that there are no fluid flow and no mass fluxes into any of the components through the boundary of region occupied by the ecosystem. It follows under the given assumptions, that the whole supply of ecosystem substance does not change in time.

    It means that requirement 4 is fulfilled. At the same time, the local temporal and spatial variability, caused by nonuniformities of illumination which is responsible for photosynthesis and variability of hydrophysical fields of fluid, may exist and even may be significant. The Equation for W is found by summation of the transfer equations for components M, B and G, which have similar forms. Therefore, in the case of spatial uniformity of biological and hydrophysical fields, to simplify the problem, the equations for the components M, B and G reduce to evolutionary equations, where the right hand sides produce the substance transfer through the all components of the system.

    The satisfaction of requirement 2 involves that the rates of productions and losses in all the ecosystem components are not independent quantities but must have a form of uniform linear constraints [11] which produce a closed substance flow through all the ecosystem components. As a result, the closure of the evolutionary equations, which governs the ecosystem components, is done by specifying the respective sources and sinks. Due to mass conservation, only half of them are really needed. In the given case of the three-components-ecosystem, the rate of losses, or rate of mineralization of the abiotic organic component G, can be approximately defined by experimental data [29], which shows this quantity can be expressed as a uniform linear function of G.

    This form of the photosynthetic reaction is well known as the Michaelis-Menten equation [4, 15]. The final closure of the model equations is done by the derivation of an analytic expression for the rate of total change of the biotic organic component. The expressions found for dissipation, D, and solar energy influx, Qe, defines the energy flow through the ecosystem in the following form: the energy influx to the system is defined by its the photosynthetic reaction efficiency, and the dissipation is caused by the energy released during the decomposition of the organic material Thus, the given ecosystem is dissipative and can only exist without decaying when the energy influx comes in the system, and so, from the energetic point of view, the ecosystem is an open system, and then the condition 5 is fulfilled The general structure of the model, in accordance the requirements l - 6 and given formalization, is illustrated on Figure 1.

    The regulations and control of the ecosystem behavior, which are a part of the human impacts, are selected to provide a given optimal ecosystem behavior reducing natural and artificial destructive effects. The regulations give the ranges of ecosystem's parameters and its component values, which are based on an obtainable state that suffers from external impacts. The control is a management process governing the ecosystem parameters to keep the system in the ranges specified by the regulations.

    Below, to simplify the analysis, the external impact is introduced only in the term which governs the photosynthetic reaction. As a first step of the study, it is necessary to figure out differences brought in the equilibrium state by the external parameter. The ecosystem model fulfills the basic features of natural ecosystem, and without external impacts, it evolves into a stable equilibrium state. An external impact dramatically changes dynamic features and equilibrium state of the ecosystem and can produce irreversible destructive changes in it.

    The ecosystem model can be employed for strategic planning of natural ecosystem development and provide a prediction of the consequences. Smayda T. Moran P. Rubinow S. Svirejev Yu. Volkenshteyn M. Romanovskii Yu. Krapivin V. Kosticin V. Parsons T:R. Benilov A. Hofbauer J. Mann K. Renshaw E. Segel L. Menshutkin V.

    Petersburg, Nauka Press, pp. Sammarco P. Denman K. Hoppensteadt F. Ocean Biology. Biological Productivity of the Ocean, v. Laypunov A. Odum E. T, , Fundamentals of Ecology, W. Saunders Company, Philadelphia and London, pp. Pianka E. Vinogradov M. Holl D. Rao K. Barnes R. Saposhjnikov V. Fouling L. Gherasimov Ya. Jamart Bruno M. Coast, Journal of Plankton Research, v. Vinberg G. The ecosystem model, upper part. The ecosystem model diagram, lower part. Two examples of unsuccessful control of the ecosystem which are under an external impact.

    High level of initial values of the biotic component. The examples of successful control of the ecosystem which are under a random external i a. Control with risk. The examples of successful control of the ecosystem which are under a random external impact. Control with no risk. Input of sediment and associated plant material e. Alternatively, the input of excessive amounts of these materials can lead to the degradation of the shallow water habitat currently in equilibrium with "normal" sediment loads Hill et al.

    The yield of sediment from shoreline bluff erosion can be large and episodic when the height of the bluff is great and the face of the bluff nearly vertical or with a negative slope ACOE, Even under moderate conditions where bluff height may be 5 to ft, a single storm can result in the erosion of tons of sediment per running foot of bluff Wang et al.

    This material may be entrained in currents and transported over a large area, or the material may slump in place, burying the shallow water habitat in the vicinity of the bluff ACOE, The erosion of bluff areas may be part of a natural process, but more commonly, bluff erosion in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay is exacerbated by anthropogenic factors such as boat wakes ACOE, ; Broom et al. Efforts to stabilize existing shoreline erosion may be initiated with the goal of protecting fastland, or less frequently, with the goal of protecting aquatic resources.

    In general, minimizing erosion of any type is viewed as an improvement, particularly when the path of eroded sediment into water is as obvious as in shoreline erosion circumstances. However, shoreline stabilization can result in a significant modification of the shallow water habitat to ensure a high degree of certainty that erosion will be successfully reduced or eliminated ACOE, ; Wang et al. Examples of typical "engineered" and guaranteed solutions are considered structural, and include bulkheaded shoreline; boulder, rip-rap, or gabion revetments; and grading and filling along the shoreline to "soften" the angle of repose.

    A common practice for bluff stabilization consists of dumping erosion resistant materials down the face of the bluff e. The use of beach and marsh grass plantings have been advocated as a non-structural solution to stabilizing areas of eroding shoreline Knutson, Current best management practices recognize that vegetation plantings on their own are not usually effective at controlling shoreline erosion, but in combination with selected structural methods, they do contribute to sediment trapping and shallow water habitat value Sharp et al. As a result of the different goals and approaches to shoreline stabilization, there is a need to evaluate the effects of shoreline erosion on the resource, to evaluate the approaches proposed to control the erosion, and to evaluate the effect approaches to erosion control have on the shallow water habitat present.

    Water depth in the project vicinity ranged from 4 to 7 ft, with a mean depth of 5-ft. This area is used intensively for recreational boating. The fetch at this location ranges from approximately ft to ft, so opportunities for wind-driven wave formation are present. However, boat wake-wave formation is thought to be a more significant factor in shoreline erosion in this cove area.

    METHOD A review of technical literature and phone conversations with Federal, State, and County resource management personnel were conducted to collect current information on techniques and considerations for stabilization of eroding bluffs. Shoreline stabilization and erosion control methodologies are typically grouped as either structural or non-structural. A description of the most common structural and non-structural methodologies are provided below. There are several types of structural stabilization. The most common are bulkheads, revetments, breakwaters, and groins.

    In addition to these general types of structures, more application-specific structures may include sills, basket cages, cut and fill, and others. These structures can be made of a variety of materials; the most common include wood, sheet metals steel and aluminum , loose rock riprap , caged rock gabions , and concrete. Bulkheads work by presenting a physical barrier to erosion by separating the erodible material from the action of the water. While bulkheading is an effective method for preventing further shoreline erosion, it has several disadvantages.

    First, installation of bulkheads tends to encourage toe scouring at their bases caused by newly reflected wave energies ACOE, Secondly, bulkheading does not provide intertidal zone habitat typical of normal beach areas. Additionally, timber bulkheading is typically an expensive form of shoreline stabilization requiring periodic maintenance and eventual replacement with a projected life of 25 to 40 years ACOE, Revetments function in a fashion similar to bulkheads, i. This approach typically requires cutting trees and significant grading.

    Terracing usually requires protecting the toe of the slope with gabions or rip-rap. Alternatively, breakwaters work by dissipating wave energy, reducing erosive action. Additionally, the dissipation of wave energy causes sediment to drop out of the water column behind the breakwater, eventually accumulating to form a bar area. Vegetative planting for erosion control is a cost-efficient alternative to structural shoreline stabilization.

    A variety of vegetation is available for planting bluffs, steeply sloped banks, intertidal areas, beaches, and shallow-water areas. Vegetative stabilization works because plant roots and rhizomes form a fibrous network throughout the substrate soil, sand, cobble, etc. The above-ground portion of vegetation protects the shoreline by reducing wind and wave energy before it hits the substrate, and by acting as a baffle, causing suspended sediment to fall out of the water column Tainter, Unlike structural stabilization approaches, which must be periodically repaired or replaced, vegetative systems are generally self-maintaining, and can often repair themselves of minor damage without costly replacements Salvo, In addition to shoreline stabilization benefits, vegetative plantings may also provide aesthetic, habitat, and water quality benefits.

    In areas of high disturbance from waves and boat wakes, such as those at the project site, vegetative stabilization can be combined with structural stabilizing elements to improve survival and establishment of the vegetation Tainter, The most effective methods of shoreline stabilization involve a combination of both structural and non-structural measures ACOE, For example, the establishment of an off- shore breakwater to dissipate wave energy combined with a beach planting to stabilize sediment and enhance shallow water habitat.

    Breakwaters are typically constructed using stone piles or cabled logs. Occasionally, low profile bulkhead walls are used to achieve the breakwater effect. The intertidal area is then planted in marsh vegetation e. However, this design, particularly the use of trees in a floating breakwater, was not preferred by the regulatory agencies or the property owner. The basis for their position was a concern that trees would not persist, maintenance would be required, and maintenance is not a reliable design feature.

    This position is not validated in this paper, but since the purpose of the paper is to describe a successful action, we will not linger over the merits of floating tree breakwaters. As a result, the floating tree breakwater concept was replaced with the second-best option identified, a rock reef breakwater with bluff and marsh plantings Fulford, The process of determining the design water elevation is complex, incorporating variables such as wind and water interaction, atmospheric pressure, topography and bathymetry.

    Winds cause the greatest change to water level elevation by acting as a horizontal force on the water surface. This force consists of two components, a pressure differential and a shear, that combine to create the total force. The wind force that would produce the greatest water level change at the proposed breakwater location occurs during a hurricane event.

    The estimate of the rise above normal water level resulting from a hurricane consists of the complex interaction of parameters including momentum, Coriolis force, surface slope, wind stress, bottom stress, rainfall rate, astronomical tide potential and atmospheric pressure reduction. Astronomical tide, wind stress and atmospheric pressure are considered to be the major contributors to water level rise at the site.

    Average yearly highest water levels measured above mean high water MHW ranged from 2. Extreme high water level above MHW ranged from 3. The calculated watc level rise of 2. As the purpose of the breakwater design is to minimize erosion of the bank due to typical storm events and waves generated from boat traffic in Sue Creek, the design storm surge height is chosen to be 2.

    The mean tidal range for the site is reported to be 1. The spring tidal range is reported to be 1.

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    A record of observed water level data for the study area has been obtained from the study conducted by EA for the period of 4 May to 3 June For this period, the mean tidal range was observed to be 1. To determine significant wave height on the breakwater, wind data and longest fetch shallow-water wave forecasting were used. Windspeed and duration are assumed to blow over the defined fetch area. The longest fetch is equal to ft, and traverses the length of Sue Creek from a westerly direction. Significant wave height is defined as the average height of the one-third highest waves of a given wave group.

    Equations have been developed to calculate significant wave height and period, from which significant wave height forecasting curves have been produced. Wave setup is defined as the super-elevation of mean water level caused by wave action alone. It is a phenomenon where an equilibrium water level is established through the action of many waves over a sufficient period of time.

    The Shore Protection Manual USAGE, provides curves that allow one to predict wave setup using design values for significant wave height, period and beach slope. From these calculations, it can be concluded that in order to cause the design wave to break at the proposed wave height, the crest of the breakwater must be less than 3. The water surface level for these conditions is 4. The design crest elevation will then be at least 1.

    The water depth at the structure is 2 ft at MLW. A breakwater height of 3 to 4 ft will be required. Calculations for the primary cover layer determine the weight of the individual armor stones to be Ib. At the time of the planting, more than 1-ft of fine sediment had accumulated between the breakwater and the bluff, supporting the beach building capability of the breakwater. The bluff continues to be subject to small scale face erosion due to precipitation, freeze-thaw, and minor toe of slope water contact.

    However, the frequency of major slumping resulting from aggressive wave attack at the toe of the slope has been reduced though the reduction of wave energy resulting from the reduction in mean and maximum wave height Over time, the bluff will experience even greater reduction. As a result of this analysis and design, a ft long continuous rock reef breakwater with low tide "windows" was constructed ft off the eroding bluff area during the fall of The breakwater is submerged at high tide, so navigation warning piles have been included in the breakwater.

    The continuous nature of the breakwater provides a greater measure of erosion reduction at the scale of this project then the more common interrupted breakwater used further "offshore. In addition, Parthenocissus uinquefolia Virginia creeper were planted on 2-ft centers in the face of the bluff. Into each of the planting holes, 1 oz of a slow release fertilizer was placed to support the vigorous growth Garbish et al. This design and implementation of this project was not based on the goal of eliminating shoreline erosion, but was instead based on reducing the rate of bluff erosion.

    Prior to the shoreline stabilization measures described here, a single storm might result in the erosion of several tons of sediment and two or more trees. The property owner reported 2-ft of erosion per year along the face of the bluff. With these stabilization measures in place, we do not expect the loss of additional trees or a measurable recession of the bluff face in the next few years under normal weather circumstances. However, even if major storms impact directly on the bluff, we are confident that erosion will be reduced relative to the unprotected condition.

    Furthermore, if erosion does occur, we expect the living components of this stabilization approach to "repair" themselves and continue to contribute to the reduction in bluff erosion. Biotechnical Reservoir Shoreline Stabilization. Station, Vicksburg. Allen, H. Biotechnical Shoreline Stabilization: Update Report. Army Engineers Waterways Expt. Belcher, C. Broome, S. Seneca and W. Planting marsh grasses for erosion control.

    University of North Carolina. Sea Grant Publication Duane, D. Harris, R. Bruno, and E. A primer of basic concept of lakeshore processes. ACOE Miscellaneous paper Belvoir, VA. Fulford, E. Reef type breakwaters for shoreline stabilization. Coastal Zone Garbish, E. Woller, and R. Saltmarsh establishment and development. ACOE Ft. Technical Memo Grey, D. Biotechnical slope protection and erosion control. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. Chapter 3, pp. Hales, L. Floating breakwaters: State of-the-art literature review. Technical Report Hill, L. Lambert and B. B Ross. Best management practices for shoreline erosion control.

    Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication Knutson, P. Planting guidelines for marsh development and bank stabilization. Ft Belvoir, VA. Lindeburg, M. Civil Engineering Reference Manual. Fifth Edition. Ghana is no exception: Fifty years ago, gold, timber and cocoa dominated its exports, and the same is true today. Sohne would argue that enterprising individuals, relying on their own resources, can propel Africa out of stagnation or slow decline.

    Men like Watt and Stephenson had overcome formidable physical obstacles and often strong human opposition to carry out their work. The advent of the computer and the rise of the Internet demonstrate that large public institutions, mobilizing great resources, were essential to the emergence of commanding technological systems. In , the government of Ghana launched an ambitious effort in support of local clothing and textile manufacturers, providing training dollars and help in landing foreign customers. No such program is planned for software writers, though they would benefit from it.

    At the very least code writers and hardware engineers need assistance in forging technical alliances, which would enable larger groups of Ghanaians to bid on more complex and lucrative contracts. Today, technical people in Ghana are isolated from one another. To share knowledge with another practitioner often is interpreted as to give something away for nothing.

    With too little work spawned by the domestic market, computer people often feel they are in a stronger position if no rival knows what they are doing. In recent years, three separate attempts to bring together technical people foster learning and growth within the community, have flopped due to lack of interest.

    The most recent attempt to form a learning network came in November , when hardware and software people gathered at Busyinternet to launch an "open source" association. About 30 people attended. At the meeting, a computer network manager, Samuel Larmie, said that the biggest hurdle facing technical people in Accra is secrecy. This is a terrible attitude. The resistance to sharing information in Ghana arises from what one observer describes as an absence of "progress culture," resulting from "low educational attainment among the people and More specially, Ghanaians are information poor.

    Not even the most existential experiences are routinely recorded. To be sure, information poverty is under attack. Government is also asserting the formal names of streets and numbers of housing in an exercise aimed at making Accra more understandable. An explosion of radio stations is bringing greater awareness of public events and urban activities, at least within Accra.

    There are now three television stations, compared to only one as recently as ten years ago. One station broadcasts CNN commercials included every morning. Old episodes of Oprah Winfrey also are shown. The Internet, of course, brings into Ghana a vast amount of text and images from around the globe. He once estimated that 80 percent of his Web customers are looking for a way out of the country. The point about the Web being a path out of the country is not a trivial one.

    But as important, is the way the Web makes poor people more aware of their poverty and perhaps more disenchanted with their station in life. With its many representations of the good life, the Web carries on a tradition of Westerners telling Africans that what they see around them, at home, is inferior and unsustainable. To be sure, I am not arguing that Africans would be better off not having the Web, or knowing where their society stacks up in comparison to others.

    Though the region has the lowest educational achievement on average of any in the world, African immigrants to the U. Thus, African migration to the U. By one estimate, cited in the World Competitive Yearbook , 26 percent of the professionals educated in Ghana today live in wealthy countries. By comparison, about three percent of the professionals educated by China and India live abroad.

    Most of professionals who leave Ghana are doctors, accountants and nurses. Some of the best technical talent in Ghana leaves the country after secondary school, finding places in British or American universities. These students are unlikely to ever return to Ghana since the skills they gain from attending top universities essentially "price them out" of the Accra labor market.

    He majored in chemical engineering, graduating in the spring of after four years. Mallet spent the fall of in Ghana, working to establish the project. He then joined the prestigious Boston Consulting Group as a rookie consultant. The journey of Mallet brothers suggests that, in Ghana at least, family networks are critical in the formation of professionals and explain how and why people leave Ghana. The question of brain drain is central to any analysis of the transformative potential of technology in Ghana.

    Says an American executive in Accra, "Brain drain is the biggest problem here. What can be done to reverse it? And retaining good people is difficult. In October, one programmer simply vanished.

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    The shortage of accomplished technical people raises costs and reduces output. In the search to replace the vacancy, the chief engineer selected eight finalists: Of the group, four never showed for an interview and one dropped out, leaving three. There is no quick fix to the brain drain. Government policymakers seem flummoxed by the situation.

    One response, however, is not to educate fewer people in computers or electrical engineering. The government needs to boost enrollments. One intriguing possibility is to mobilize a planned software institute that will initially help the government improve its own use of information technology. Initial funds for the institute come from India, whose government was privately importuned by Kofi Annan to assist his country an example of how a smart diaspora can help; of this more later.

    The institute, while expected to assist government departments with computing needs, will be open to the general public, offering courses and customized study. If they succeed elsewhere in the world, he believes, "these people can be mobilized from a distance. To start with, the government should first begin to compile a skills inventory of the electrical engineers and software programmers of Ghanaian origin who are living in the U. Perhaps a specialist living outside of Ghana can be persuaded to return home; even the possibility of recruiting members of the diaspora might nudge a multinational to open an office where otherwise they might dismiss the possibility.

    Quaynor returned to found an Internet service provider and a number of related computer businesses. A former field engineer for International Business Machines is managing an outsourcing company that has an initial U. The flow into Ghana remains small compared to the flow out, but the willingness of talented people to return suggests that there are legitimate opportunities to build technology businesses in Ghana and that the current political and social environment is attractive enough for a growing number of people to try.

    The University of Ghana in the Accra suburb of Legon is receiving increased funds budgeted for expansion of its student body, its infrastructure and its academic activities. Yet no plan exists to exploit the potential of an improved computer science department, probably the one department with the greatest potential to generate commercial activity in the country. The department needs the resources to improve instruction and the quality of its graduates. It needs to increase its faculty by a factor of three.

    It needs a proper computer lab with an active link to the Web. A partnership with a leading computer science school in Europe or the U. The university alone cannot improve its CS department. Only in partnership with software professionals and business can the university do so. Computer programmers in Accra need to raise their skill levels. International engineering and computer science organizations, both in Europe and the U.

    In the fields of computing and communications, a "skills database" of the Ghanaians working in the U. Diaspora networks are proving to carry significant economic clout within home countries. Little of this money, however, goes into productive enterprises but is rather passed on to family members to cover immediate living expenses. Ghanaians living abroad have considered forming an investment company that would invest in Ghanaian businesses, but the company is not yet active. In any case, such an investment fund needs a focus; it might bear more fruit if it concentrates on a single sector of the economy, such as software and related services [ 21 ].

    Ghana is a country that is characterized by striking inequalities. There are notable divides between men and women, tribal groups, geographic regions and economic class. Inequity is a given in Ghana. In considering the potential of information technology, Ghanaians have concentrated on the possible wealth creation stimulated by innovations in computing and communications.

    The need to ignite growth is keenly felt in a country that has seen declines in living standards, in absolute terms, in the past forty years. Just as in Silicon Valley, where observers spoke of a "new gold rush," recalling the original attraction to California in the s, Ghanaian patriots wonder how the interplay of computing and communications might unlock a second gold rush of their own. The enthusiasm for technological innovation turns on its potential to boost private enterprise.

    A secondary interest is in using what the Ghanaians dub "ICT" to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental services. Coming in a poor third is the question of the democratic character of the new information technologies and whether their introduction might actually worsen inequality in an already lopsided society. On the level of policy, the Government of Ghana has struggled to address either of the broad issues of wealth creation or equity. Former President Jerry Rawlings showed a healthy interest in computing and communications.

    He had his own adviser on computer matters and pushed through a liberalization of telecom that had initial success though later lost steam. Yet his national policy on technology, while enacted into law in the late s, never moved beyond hollow rhetoric. The new Kufuor government, as of its first two years in office, has yet to deliver any policy documents on information technology, despite having a full agenda. To be sure, how Ghana can best mobilize technological innovation is a weighty question.

    But the state has plenty of studies to work with. About the time that Kufuor came into office, the Ghana office of the United Nations Development Program released a comprehensive report on the state of science and technology in Ghana. Instead of using the report as a foundation, the new government commissioned a fresh study under a personal adviser to the President. The adviser, after consultations with scores of leading computer and communications people, produced a dense, lengthy document that was, after a decent interval, discarded.

    While this report may indeed prove valuable, the process of study has gone on too long. The government also appears confused between two laudable goals: That of improving the way government uses computers, and of creating an enabling environment for businesses engaged in information technology and communications. For a government that campaigned on a promise to create "a golden age of business" in Ghana, the rhetorical emphasis on the digital seems misplaced. While surely civil service reform is needed, efforts at reform are nearly two years old and have absorbed a good deal of funds and energy from the World Bank.

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    Rather than improve government services, investments in computing and communications equipment might simply become another form of government waste. The government, after all, has shown an inability to carry out on its own such basic exercises as firing workers who never appear for work i. The government has presumably fired its phantom workers, yet it has never declared how many it has fired. The government also has shown caution towards its national telephone company, which is the source of many problems. The key regulatory body, the National Communications Authority NCA , has never issued regulations governing competition between wired and wireless phone companies.

    Moreover, Ghana Telecom needs a foreign investor to help fund its ambitious performance goals, but it cannot attract one in part because of the absence of rules governing the sector. Meanwhile, the largest American technology investor in Ghana, the company I have called Data Flow, chose to open a new operation in India because of its inability to obtain adequate wired line service to the Internet in Ghana. Investments in these private networks could have gone toward productive technology activities rather than merely creating conditions that the telecom sector should have provided as public goods.

    The government should immediately release rules for the NCA to enforce, and include among those rules permission for Internet telephony under limited conditions. The government has had more than two years to study various drafts of the rules. It has turned down assistance from the U. Federal Communications Commission. It has ignored the pleas of telecom companies in the country.

    The thicket of policy options in the area of wealth creation has pushed to the back seat discussions of how IT might address unmet social and material needs and build bridges across many of the "divides" within Ghana. In these areas, technological innovations would seem to have an evident value to the poor and rural dwellers generally.

    Any push for IT solutions to unmet needs in Ghana must be viewed in the context of the potential to apply mature technologies to problems long ago mastered in the developed world. First, a health care example. Ghana has a longstanding research effort on malaria, led by the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research. The institute is small, yet internationally known. It is a partner in an ambitious new malaria research project, funded by the Gates Foundation and led by the London School of Tropical Diseases and Medicine.

    It is hard to imagine an unmet need in Ghana that would have a larger payoff than a dramatic reduction in malaria incidence. To be sure, "rollback malaria," as the World Health Organization calls its campaign, requires a grand global partnership and levels of funding that go far beyond anything Ghana can contribute. Consider the case of bed nets. When impregnated with an insecticide, bed nets are proven to reduce malaria incidence. A medical researcher in Ghana, Fred Binka, even conducted a scientifically rigorous trial in northern Ghana in the s and published his findings six years ago.

    Yet the government has never acted on the research by introducing a campaign to promote the use of bed nets, which have never been used in Ghana in any numbers. Malaria education also is needed. Worse, these same experts advise that resistance of malaria parasites can be overcome by a treatment consisting of a combination of chloroquine and a derivative from a Chinese plant medicine, Artesunate, which costs pennies per tablet. The application of technology can also help to reduce the shortage of water in rural parts of Ghana. There was also surprising resistance in some villages to abandoning unclean river water.

    World Vision engineers were once chased out of villages by elders who believed in the religious significance of river water. In response, World Vision began sending an advance team of educators to address concerns of "the power structure" of a village who might interpret the introduction of a well as "an attack on their religious beliefs. The benefits of clean water are manifold. Besides improved health conditions, a village can see a spike in productivity.

    The former water source may have required a lengthy trek. Since children often assist their mothers in gathering water, school enrollments rise following the arrival of a well. The village also can learn about responsibility, since World Vision requires that a local committee maintains the well and insures that water is distributed fairly and, say, not hoarded by a powerful local clique and then sold at high prices.

    The cases of malaria and well water suggest that there are benefits from applying established technologies to unmet social needs. Let me give one more example, from outside the domain of computing and communications, before returning to the field. Ghana is rich in agricultural potential. Land reform has never occurred in Ghana. Few farmers own their own land. There are virtually no plantations in Ghana. Small farms are the norm, and they are unproductive.

    Half the amount of cocoa is produced per acre in Ghana as in Ivory Coast, where French colonial era practices endowed the country with large plantations and more efficient growers. Poor roads, moreover, cut production even further. There are virtually no fruit canneries in the country.

    Transportation difficulties also hurt efforts by farmers to compete against foreign food. Ghana has not sat still in the face of agricultural stagnation. These researchers concentrate on crop, tree and soil studies. Still, the council searches for relevance. One of its institutes concentrates on road building technologies and has tried to invent durable materials less expensively. Road building is expensive, requires good planning and disciplined public workers.

    The shortage of good roads in Ghana is a problem of governance, not technology. Only one wireless carrier, Spacefon, seriously tries to offer nationwide service. Today, there are more than , wireless subscribers in Ghana and the figure, already greater than the number of wired lines, is rapidly approaching , Without wireless telephony, life and commerce in Accra would come to a halt.

    The benefit is large. Yet wireless telephony is a powerful driver for inequality in Ghana. To be sure, even people without wireless phones benefit from the productivity gains delivered by the technology. Yet the wireless imbalance is also greater than it seems.

    Wireless companies no longer invest in analog networks, for instance only Mobitel even maintains one as a legacy to its original 25, customers. The reason for the switch to digital is clear: Digital phones and equipment offer better quality and the possibility of such exotic services as text messaging and shopping by phone. In search of the "cream" of the Accra phone market, wireless providers are concentrating on a relatively expensive technology that locks their customer base into more expensive phones and airtime charges.

    Novel approaches to the organization of telephony rather than innovations in the underlying technology should better serve the poor. More dial tones are needed in more parts of the country. The government has prodded its national telephone carrier, Ghana Telecom, into expanding phone service, more than doubling the number of lines over the past five years to about , Wireless telephone companies offer a similar number of lines.

    But the lines are concentrated in the wealthiest parts of the country, Accra especially. How might information technology solve unmet social needs in Ghana? People are pursuing socially useful IT applications in ways that suggest they have a solution looking for a problem.

    This is the sort of exercise extolled by the World Bank in its important study, Knowledge For Development. Cocoa beans, as a commodity, trade on global markets. A good deal of information about cocoa prices exists. But technical barriers prevent this.


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    • Telephone links to rural areas are poor. The national phone company has placed the vast majority of its lines in cities. In an ideal situation, such information would help farmers. But in Ghana today, such information would have less value than at first meets the eye, because of laws governing the sale of cocoa.

      Farmers in Ghana can only sell cocoa they grow to the government. To be sure, information technology may raise the awareness of cocoa farmers about the inequity of the government pricing scheme, which might prompt them to protest in favor of an alternative. But neither information alone nor the tools to manage the information will help to raise cocoa prices. Only an end to government control of pricing will do that.

      To be sure, there are plenty of areas of Ghanaian society where information technology can help reduce inequities, starting with schools, medical clinics and hospitals, none of which routinely possess computers or Internet access. Yet the question of competing priorities looms over any proposed initiative to apply IT to an urgent, unmet social need.

      What might be done instead? IT applications can certainly improve patient care, especially if a Web link allowed nurses to immediately query a doctor in, say, New York, with a question about a baby in distress. One can imagine a network of small, inexpensive video cameras, linked to a PC, which would beam pictures across the Internet to a doctor in New York, further assisting him in the formulation of his advice. Enthusiasts of computing and communications cheer such possibilities and indeed we all should.

      But enthusiasm for IT must crash against the hard rock of reality of technological systems in a poor African country. The very infant ICU that I am describing does not have a secure electricity source. When the power goes down, the incubators go dark. So which is more important? Advocates of IT for social development as distinct from economic development should be mindful that the universe of possibilities is wider than they usually acknowledge.

      I next wish to examine how the spread of computing and communications in Ghana is both promoting equity and inequity, in different spheres and in different ways. These two divides also seem porous to the effects both positive and negative of innovations in information technology and communications. I recall a curious moment, during one of my first visits to Ghana in the year , when a British adviser was trying to convince officials in the Ministry of Health to direct more resources to the poor. As I sat in the back of the room, I watched bureaucrats squirm.

      Not really. In all other zones of the country, the poverty percentage ranges from 45 percent in coastal zones to 70 percent in rural northern areas [ 23 ]. The poverty figures suggest that the government ought to drive the spread of information technology into rural areas, where the poorest people live, as part of an effort to raise productivity and living standards. Precisely the opposite is happening. Computing and communications capabilities are concentrating in Accra. Hence, there is a seeming conflict between promoting equity and promoting economic development.

      But the price of such a strategy will be the further marginalization of rural areas. The evidence is clear: Accra has raced ahead of the rest of the country. It could create an IT park in the coastal city of Cape Coast, which while only a few hours from Accra, lacks robust computing and communications links. The natural beauty of Cape Coast, which was once the colonial capital of the Gold Coast Colony, and its relative proximity to Accra, makes it a potential IT center. With the construction of a decent road link between the two cities, travel time could fall from more than three hours to less than 90 minutes, deepening the links between the two places.

      Today, a prosperous Ghanaian can live in a gated community, in a home built by a Texas real estate developer, and whose electricity and water are supplied by a private association. Inside his home, he can watch British football games on satellite television, shop at L. Bean over the Internet or study at a top university via distance learning.

      Empowered by IT, the elite African remains home alone. Of course, he is still on African soil, which is a better situation than his joining the brain drain. But information technology is also a force for equity.

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